Merimbula Town Centre Forum

Hansen were engaged by the Merimbula Chamber of Commerce to help facilitate a ‘Town Centre Forum’ and prepare advocacy material, to assist the Chamber in engagement and funding opportunities to improve the vibrancy and character of its town centre and foreshore. Key focuses included enhancing the environmental, economic and social aspects of existing public spaces to encourage safe pedestrian movement throughout the town and to enhance the visual connection with the Merimbula Lake. While a comprehensive CBD Masterplan had been completed in 2015, commissioned by the local Bega Shire, the Chamber of Commerce and the community were seeking advice, momentum and funding to achieve objectives of the masterplan in the shorter term by funding lower-cost changes to the streetscape using access to existing funding, and applying for new grants as part of the NSW Bushfire Community Recovery and Resilience Fund project

Following the facilitation of discussion and design exercises in the Town Centre Forum held in Merimbula, Hansen proposed several “Targeted” and “Tactical” changes across two key areas in the township. These proposals could be achieved with a limited budget in the shorter term to achieve overarching objectives and aspirations held in the existing masterplan, and new ones that have since emerged. Proposed initiatives include traffic calming treatments to enhance connectivity through the CBD, converting the foreshore car park to a public open space to restore the environmental quality of the foreshore and create opportunity for events and gathering, and various street greening initiatives to enhance the coastal character of the town centre streetscapes. It was proposed that these and other initiatives could be ‘trialled’ on a temporary basis through tactical urbanism, to involve the community in the creative process and build momentum from successful trials.

Hansen’s approach uses short-term, low-cost and scalable interventions to catalyse long-term change while making an immediate and positive impact for the wider community and visitors to the town. This quick and affordable solution demonstrates Hansen’s ability to take a high-level solution and adapt it to suit not only the immediate needs of the community, but to form the basis for future enhancements to be adopted in the longer term.